Have you ever wondered what Jesus meant by the word “lukewarm” and what its significance might be for all who claim to be believers? Please allow me to offer my thoughts.
The Apostle John’s letters to the seven churches were sent to seven literal, local churches as well as individuals within the churches. Also, they are messages that apply to all churches of all ages and picture seven periods or stages of church history.
In John’s letter to the church of Laodicea, he writes these words of Jesus as recorded in
3:15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.
3:16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.
3:17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’-and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.
Various dictionaries define ‘lukewarm’ as tepid, lacking conviction, halfhearted, sluggish, state of inactivity, indifferent and apathetic.
In Rev. 3:17 Jesus points out that even though they claim to be rich, wealthy and in need of nothing, they are actually wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked but do not know it. In
Rev. 3:16 Jesus doesn’t say that they are lukewarm “Christians”, just that they are lukewarm. They are not ‘hot’ – not totally committed to living for the Lord and doing His will; nor are they ‘cold’ – not dismissing Christianity since they are probably church goers. They are simply lukewarm with one foot in the world and one foot out. Perhaps they have never had that “born again” experience. John 3:3 clearly states that one must be born again to see the kingdom of God.
Unlike Rev. 3:17, true believing Christians are not wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. They are rejoicing in their salvation (Eph. 5:19,20), praising God (Psalm 47), trusting Him (Psalm 121), praying (1 Thes. 5:17), studying His Word (1 Tim. 4:13) and eagerly watching for His return (2 Tim. 4:8).
It is very clear in Rev. 3:16 that a lukewarm nature is nauseous to God and does not have a place in the body of believers. ( ….I will vomit you out of my mouth.)
During Jesus’ ministry, He taught parables explaining that very theme. In His parable of the weeds (Matt. 13:24-30), the good wheat was gathered at harvest and put into the barn. The tares/weeds were bundled and burned. In His parable of the net (Matt. 13:47-51), the nets were brought in to shore. Then the good fish were kept and the bad fish were thrown away. In both parables, the marginal/mediocre (lukewarm) was not even acceptable to God. It was either good or bad.
There are studies available today showing that many people who claim to be believers do not read or study God’s Word. They don’t pray or meditate on the things of God. They might go to a church service but that’s about it for the week. I’ve actually had people tell me they just don’t have time for all that. Somehow they expect to be in heaven one day, but won’t take the time to talk with God or read what He has to say to us through His Word. It’s almost as if they don’t realize that the God they are ignoring today is the same God of all eternity in heaven. What will they do or say to Him on that day when we all must stand before Him? They will have no excuse or argument. The Bible says the day is coming when all will realize that He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. However, then it will be too late. They spend more time planning for a week of vacation than they spend planning for their eternity.
Sadly there are many who are just going through the motions with an appearance of Christianity, but haven’t allowed Jesus to come into their life. Jesus explains this in Matt. 7:21-23 along with the consequences.
7:21 Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
7:22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord’, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?
7:23 And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!.
In Titus 1:16 we read, “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work”.
In Matthew 4:19 and Mark 1:17 Jesus said “Come, follow Me and I will make you fishers of men”. Notice here that He was not saying that we ‘can be’ or ‘might be’ or ‘should be’ fishers of men. He was saying we ‘WILL BE’ fishers of men - after we answer His call to follow Him by becoming born again. All born again believers are not only part of a larger ministry, but each is also called to proclaim the Gospel ‘in season and out of season (2 Tim. 4:2)’ wherever we are in this unbelieving world. Are we doing that? Do we have a burden and ministry to reach out to our lost family, friends and those we associate with each day? If not, then perhaps we have not followed Him because we do not truly belong to Him. We need to think about that.
Jesus offers hope to the Laodicean church and all who are lukewarm with His invitation and His promise in Rev. 3:20-22.
3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
3:21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
3:22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
It’s so sad that today many or perhaps even most of our churches are like that Laodicean church. They are too busy trying to fill the pews and preaching watered down sermons that don’t offend anyone by giving them what they want to hear. The gospel message that teaches we are sinners in need of a Savior as well as teaching the only way of salvation is just not being preached. They have become lukewarm. The real Jesus is not there. In Rev. 3:20-22, Jesus has clearly been cast out of His church and is on the outside waiting at the door to be invited back with them.
Are you lukewarm? Have you truly answered Jesus’ call by repenting and inviting Him into your heart as your Lord and Savior? Jesus suffered and died for us – what will we do with Him? Perhaps you are a true believer, but maybe you have allowed other things to come into your life that you have given priority over God. Matt. 6:24 says ‘we cannot serve two masters’. Josh. 24:15 says ‘we must chose this day who we will serve’. Have you heard His call? Do you hear Him knocking at the door of your heart? He’s waiting there patiently for you to let Him in. Your eternal destiny depends on it.
Let Him in - and then live for Him with all your heart and soul!
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Keep Telling The Truth no matter what anybody says! When you tell it like this people get offended cause they are guilty. But those who agree have your back, encourage you, and pray for you to continue spreading The Gospel of Jesus Christ. May God Himself keep you and protect you forever Amen.